This is a fair question.

Let me back up.  Lola’s Mom and Dad have some …er…”eccentricities” that many may find off-putting.

Let’s start with Dad.  The other night at dinner, I realized the dishwasher hadn’t been run and pulled the last two clean forks out of our drawer.  Without saying anything, Brian took his fork and put it back in the drawer, pulled a dirty fork from the dishwasher, and washed it.  As my puzzled stare, he said, “I’m not eating with a cat food fork”.

To be fair, we do have “cat food forks” – forks that aren’t from our normal dinner set that I generally serve the cat food with.  However, these same forks are washed in the same dishwasher and are nestled in the same cubby, touching, in the utensil drawer.  Cleaned with boiling water.  But, it’s a “cat food fork”, and Brian won’t eat with it.  (YES, I ate with the cat food fork.  I’m not ashamed.)

There is a retarded fork from our normal dinner set with a bent prong that I refuse to eat with, but I won’t get rid of it, either.  I just roll the dice that I won’t grab that fork, end up grabbing it anyway, curse under my breath, and put it back in the drawer.  These are nightly challenges, folks.  Mommy and Daddy both have fork issues.

We also have this passive aggressive “game” we play with the wooden blinds in our living room.  Brian tends to think we need to throw the blinds wide and let the world spill in every morning and, when I complain, he says he’s not going to live in a “world of darkness”.  When he’s out of sight, I go over and slant them down a bit – we still get light, but there’s no reason to give the neighbors and potential zombies a clear line of vision into our home.  There’s a lot of messed up stuff going on in here – breast pumping, fork issues, a dog with a thyroid problem…you name it.  And I haven’t even mentioned the cats.  OH MY GOD.  THE CATS.

Food issues?  Dad has a strong aversion to mayonnaise, sour cream, milk…really, anything white and creamy.  (I have a theory this is because Brian, himself, is white and creamy-skin-toned and – with his mad basketball skills and his “make JLo jealous” backside – has always felt screwed over by the universe because he’s not a 6’7″ black athlete.)  One of the better compliments he’s ever received was when he was being fitted for his wedding tuxedo and the black salesman said “Man, they just don’t make pants for us!” and gave him a fist pump.  Aw, yeah.

Brian also doesn’t like being around people eating cereal.  He thinks it’s one of the more disgusting things to watch someone eat – the soggy flakes dripping with white, creamy milk is almost more than he can handle.

However, these idiosyncrasies are mild when compared to my own individual hang ups.  Take last night at the grocery store, for instance.  Lola is in her car seat in the cart, and we’re in the checkout line.  I happen to be in line with someone who is popping her gum.  I actually leave the line and get as far away from her as possible, all the while irritably mumbling how people who pop/crack/chomp gum look like cows and making little “moo” noises under my breath – all while my beautiful daughter stares at me and coos.  I wait until this gum popper has left the store before I head back up front, wondering how I will explain this to my child when she is old enough to comprehend that Mommy is a lunatic.  Not to mention the real question: am I going to be the Mother who denies my child the experience of gum?  No child should be denied the experience of gum…

This gum aversion caused a number of fights with my older sister, Jodi, growing up.  Jodi is a master-first-class gum popper.  I remember being 15 and practicing driving while she was in the backseat.  I kept half turning and yelling at her to “stop popping your gum!”, my Dad in the passenger seat yelling “pay attention to the road!  They will not give you a license if you’re dead!” and my sister yelling back “I’m not popping my gum!  You’re hearing things!” and promptly pulling her gum out of her mouth and sticking it to my cheek.

The shocking thing about this gum issue is how pissed off I get when I’m in a situation where I can’t escape.  (Think: plane travel, client meetings, classrooms when I was in high school).  It’s as if I believe the person(s) doing it are purposely trying to get under my skin.  I know this isn’t logical, but it doesn’t stop my face from getting red hot as I imagine bitch slapping them silly.

Now, let’s talk about crunching.

Crunching that bothers me: anything to do with people and their mouths.

Crunching that doesn’t bother me: fall leaves underfoot; the crunch of a zombie’s skull being battered in with a hammer – you know.  Normal things.

I will actually go out of my way to catch a little-attended matinee at the movies to avoid a packed night where I may have to sit by or near Mr. and Mrs. Popcorn Crunch.

(You’re wondering if you should still be my friend, aren’t you?)

My husband is the worst.  He eats chips with every meal.  I’m not kidding.  EVERY MEAL.  Pizza?  Sea salt and vinegar chips.  Steak?  Corn chips as an appetizer.  He eats more varieties of nachos than I ever knew existed.  (When I’m PMS’ing, I just make the executive decision to eat alone in our bedroom so we don’t get a divorce).

When my mom visits, she always wants to “make a dip” for chips so we can all sit around and crunch together.  I tell her we don’t eat dips because of Brian’s aversion to mayonnaise and creamy products.  Crisis averted.

At one of our birthing classes, they served us fajitas and nachos for lunch.  The room *EXPLODED* in crunching for a solid 30 minutes.  It was even annoying Brian, and I could see him shooting furtive glances at me, wondering when I was going to snap and heave my 9-month pregnant body on some unsuspecting soul, gouging out his or her eyeballs, leaving them unable to see their newborn…

Here’s the scary part.  My parents seem pretty normal.  Noises don’t bother them like they do me – and they didn’t bother them back when they could hear, either.  My Mom used to tell me not to EVER tell anyone that gum popping bothered me because, then, they would know how to torture me if I were ever captured.  (I remember asking my mom for the definition of torture when I was little.  She explained torture as someone holding you down and “peeling your skin back with a knife – you know.  Like an apple.”  God, Mom!  I was 7-years old!)  Needless to say, I NEVER wanted to be tortured, so I kept my phobias mostly to myself for a long, long time.

The good news?  I’ve met other kindred spirits who are bothered by noises, gum, crunching, bent-pronged forks.  I’ve heard this is a known “condition” – fixating on noises, not liking certain textures, being “tortured” by these things.  And, while it’s comforting to know I’m not alone and to share some common angst, I can’t help hoping – really, sincerely hoping – that Lola does not inherit these quirks from me.  I don’t know that Brian could handle two of us yelling at him to “STOP CRUNCHING!!”